Our Wendy is a very spiritual little girl. Her faith is so strong that she has helped me through many difficult times, and I have thanked my Heavenly Father often for her sweet spirit. I especially remember a rewarding experience with Wendy one Christmas when she was seven.
I have always loved Christmas—the snow, the music that fills the air, the laughter of children. But that year was different. It seemed as if everything I had to do was just too much bother. I didn’t want to make Christmas cookies. I put off shopping for gifts; my heart wasn’t in it, and everything I wanted to buy was either too expensive or they didn’t have the right color or size. Our three children had taken turns being ill since the end of October, ten-year-old Andy being the latest casualty. I was depressed and tired, mentally and physically.
Wendy had earned her own money for shopping that year, and she was really excited on the day I took her and five-year-old Brady downtown. The stores were crowded, and Brady wanted everything he saw and became cross with me when I kept telling him NO. I was getting tired and upset myself. Wendy seemed to take forever finishing her shopping, but at last it was over and we started home.
“Mommy, can I wrap my gift for you as soon as we get home?” Wendy asked.
“No, I don’t want the mess of wrapping all over the house today,” I answered, a little too sharply. Through the rear-view mirror I saw her bright blue eyes cloud with disappointment.
Once home, Wendy gathered up her packages and went to her room to hide her Christmas surprises. She remained quiet the rest of the day, which is unusual for a normally happy little chatterbox. In the evening I finally put my arms around her, feeling bad about the way I had acted all day. Even my husband couldn’t bring me out of my dour mood, which surprised him; I’m usually the lighthearted one. Something was missing, something very important.
The next morning Wendy asked again if she could wrap her gift for me. I told her that after my housework was done she could do her wrapping, but she had to clean up every speck of paper, ribbon, or tape when she finished. She joined in to help me finish the housework and then went to her room to begin her gift wrapping. The boys had done nothing but fight all morning so I sent them to their room. The phone rang constantly.
When Wendy brought her gifts in and placed them under the tree, her eyes were bright and happy once again. “I put your present under the tree,” she said.
“That’s nice,” I replied, busy with dinner.
“It’s the most beautiful gift in the world, mommy,” she said.
“I’m sure it is, honey,” I answered.
“I wish you would open it now.”
“Not now, Wendy. You know we don’t open gifts until Christmas morning.”
Her face again betrayed her disappointment. After dinner she sat by the tree holding my gift in her lap. She seemed miles away. I thought, if it means that much to her, why not open it? it won’t hurt, this once.
I went in to sit by her. “All right,” I said, “I’ll open your gift early, but just this once.” Her face lit up again.
I took the odd-shaped package that she had wrapped so lovingly and began to unwrap it. When the paper was off, I sat staring at it. I could feel a lump rising in my throat and tears stinging my eyes, Her little voice was echoing in my mind, “It’s the most beautiful gift in the world, mommy.”
“Don’t you like it, mommy?” she asked, seeing my tears.
I held the little nativity scene she had given me in one hand and hugged her close to me with the other.
So that was why I had been depressed. In all the hustle and bustle of the season, I had forgotten what Christmas really means: the birth of Jesus and his message of peace on earth, good will toward men; the coming of the Son of God into the world to redeem mankind and extend the blessings of eternity to all. Suddenly my heart felt lighter than it had in weeks. Something was restored that I had lost along the way. Through tears I managed to answer her, “This is the most beautiful gift in the world. It always will be!”